Research from PayPal and comScore found that 46% of online shoppers—nearly half—say high shipping charges is a “very important reason” for leaving their carts in the dust. Add this deterrent to the list of a half dozen others I’ve covered in this series so far (including the most recent post on testing and tweaking forms), and you can see why the average cart abandonment rate hovers near 70%.

So how can you ensure shipping charges hit the sweet spot with visitors and don’t stop them from converting? Here are four ideas to consider:

1. Provide estimated shipping costs while visitors browse.

Shipping fees that take visitors by surprise are a conversion killer. So make sure they can see what they’re likely to pay before they start the checkout process.


2. Make checkout as easy as possible.

Most visitors understand shipping fees are necessary, but they’re hardly enthralled by the prospect. So include a feature that automatically populates information when consumers’ shipping and billing addresses are the same. Fewer steps reduce frustration, making shipping fees an easier pill to swallow.

3. Find out where they’re visiting your site from.

Geotargeting can help you soften the blow of shipping fees. Test and implement banners for shoppers located within a certain distance from your shipping facilities, announcing their eligibility for free or low-cost shipping.  Highlight shipping options, such as ship to store, if you support it and shoppers are within a geotargeted range of a store. Another best practice is to promote “expedited shipping” for visitors within close range of your distribution centers, charging the standard delivery rate, but delivering the next day.


4. Make your return policy crystal clear.

One pressing concern for online buyers: How hard will it be to return this item? It’s imperative to include complete, clear information on your return policy. And if possible, give consumers the opportunity to return items in person at a brick-and-mortar location. Another option: announces a free return policy in a sidebar. By placing that sidebar near a point of action—the “Move to Cart” button—the retailer gives shoppers an incentive (free shipping, free returns) to go for it.

For more tactics proven to reduce shopping cart abandonment, download The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment eBook.